A federal judge denied a request to block part of Georgia’s new voting law for upcoming legislative runoff elections, writing it would “change the law in the ninth inning,” but reserving judgment for the future.

This story also appeared in Georgia Public Broadcasting

U.S. District Judge J.P. Boulee’s 11-page order Wednesday said the motion for preliminary injunction would have changed rules for an election already underway and that plaintiffs waited nearly three months after the 98-page SB 202 took effect before filing suit.

The lawsuit, filed by the Coalition for Good Governance and a number of activists, sought to reverse a shorter absentee ballot request window that starts 11 weeks before an election and ends 11 days before and challenges a number of changes to election observation and monitoring rules.

It is one of eight lawsuits currently challenging different parts of SB 202, including a recently filed challenge by the U.S. Department of Justice that seeks to return federal oversight to some of Georgia’s voting changes.

While the overall case is still active and Boulee did not weigh in on the overall merits of the challenge, his order denying the preliminary request centered on “the risk of disrupting the administration of an ongoing election” for state and local elections officials.

Marilyn Marks, Executive Director for the Coalition for Good Governance, said in a statement she was “disappointed” that the law remains in effect but pleased the order was limited to next week’s elections only.

“Election processes are already beginning for the special elections on Sept. 21, such as the vacancy election in Clayton County,” she said. “The November municipal elections will begin to be negatively impacted in September and October as well. We look forward to continuing to seek these essential protections from the unconstitutional provisions for those upcoming elections.”

Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who is facing a pro-Trump primary challenger for failing to overturn the election results last November, praised the ruling in a statement.

“This is just another in the line of frivolous lawsuits against Georgia’s election law based on misinformation and lies,” he said. “We will continue to meet them and beat them in court.”

Georgia’s election administration and narrow victory for President Joe Biden has been a major flashpoint for voting rights, from the signing of the new sweeping law to numerous lawsuits. Georgia has also played a recurring role in pro-Trump media outlets pushing misinformation to Republican lawmakers and voters who refuse to acknowledge the outcome of the election.

This story comes to The Current through a reporting partnership with GPB News, a non-profit newsroom covering the state of Georgia.

Stephen Fowler/GPB News

Stephen Fowler is political reporter for Georgia Public Broadcasting.